*“Boy, he knows how to use that camera,” is what the late Ebony and Jet publisher John H. Johnson said about George Livingston Jr., when they met in Washington, DC over thirty years ago.
The Richmond, California native and son of the former mayor Richmond (the late George Livingston Sr.) has been snapping pictures of celebrities since 1982 and has made quite a name for himself.
Mr. Livingston’s accomplishments will be recognized and rewarded on tonight, Saturday, November 24, when he is inducted into the Bay Area R&B Hall of Fame, in addition to popular bay area KDIA DJ Nick Harper.
The induction will take place during the O’Jays concert at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. Coincidentally, George was at the O’Jays Bay Area Hall of Fame induction ceremony year before last.
I had a chance to have an entertaining chat with Mr. Livingston about his induction into the Hall of Fame, as well as be regaled with stories of the various celebrities he has encountered over the years. George Livingston is a very humble and unassuming man, who was less interested in discussing his induction into the Hall of Fame, than he was in sharing stories of how he was able to amass such a volume of photographs. George is very appreciative of the Hall of Fame honor, but shared, “I’ve just been selected. Someone else will be selected next year.” Yep, that is how low-key and modest he is.
George’s career actually began by accident back in the mid 1980s. He was attending a City of Hope tribute to Quincy Jones in Beverly Hills, to promote an ice skater he was working with. We are talking Quincy Jones here, so there were celebrities everywhere. Singer James Ingram was the first person he saw and after that, it was on and popping. According to George:
“I just started taking pictures. James Ingram, Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, Greg Phillinganes … pictures of everybody.”
That is also where he met EURweb’s head man, Lee Bailey, although he admitted he didn’t know who he was at the time. It’s okay George, you aren’t from Los Angeles, or you would have known who Lee “The Voice” Bailey” was. LOL!
One of the most memorable friendships George Livingston had was with the late James Brown, of whom he was a big fan. He created a four-inch thick scrapbook, which he was able to share with Mr. Brown the day after attending one of his concerts. James Brown was so impressed with the scrapbook that he invited George and his sister to ride with him to his next concert. Guess who drove? James Brown!
According to George, “After that, I never had to pay for another James Brown concert.” In fact, when the television show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” decided to do a show about James Brown, Mr. Brown contacted George Livingston for pictures to use. How cool is that?!
George has a myriad of career achievements, including having photographed the American Music Awards for 20 years, photographing the Grammy’s and other awards shows, as well as being a contributor to Ebony, Jet, Black Beat, Word Up, Right On and Fresh magazines.
He has been hired to go on tour to shoot for various singing groups and his works have been featured in books, including one about Motown. He has had countless pictures he has taken used for various other endeavors.
George Livingston has been approached regarding preparing a documentary on his career and thanks to John H. Johnson, he already knows the title: “Boy, He Knows How to Use That Camera.”
You can follow George via his Facebook page, HERE. Check it out and send him a congratulatory note on his Bay Area R&B Hall of Fame induction tonight.
*CORRECTION: This version corrects info above that originally stated that the O’Jays received their Bay Area R&B Hall of Fame award last year. It was actually 2 years ago.
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].